When Donald Trump decided to make the first self-inflicted crisis to envelop the White House center around his fraudulent claims about the crowd size at his inauguration, he sent his staff on a mission to obtain photos of the event from the National Park Service (NPS) in an attempt to find more flattering images that would bolster Trump’s claims. But according to a report from The Guardian, a government photographer ended up editing official pictures of the inauguration to make the crowd appear bigger.
Acting on Trump’s anger that the photos showed his inauguration crowd to be smaller than the crowd that turned out for Barack Obama‘s 2009 inauguration, the photographer cropped out empty space “where the crowd ended” for a new set of pictures requested by Trump on the first morning of his presidency.
From The Guardian:
The detail was revealed in investigative reports released to the Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act by the inspector general of the US interior department. They shed new light on the first self-inflicted crisis of Trump’s presidency, when his White House falsely claimed he had attracted the biggest ever inauguration audience.
The records detail a scramble within the National Park Service (NPS) on 21 January 2017 after an early-morning phone call between Trump and the acting NPS director, Michael Reynolds. They also state that Sean Spicer, then White House press secretary, called NPS officials repeatedly that day in pursuit of the more flattering photographs.
The Guardian’s report points out that it’s not known which photos were edited and if they were made public.
An NPS official reportedly said Reynolds called her after speaking with Trump and relayed that he wanted more flattering pictures of his inauguration, adding that she got the impression that President Trump wanted to see pictures that appeared to depict more spectators in the crowd”, and that the images released so far showed “a lot of empty areas,” The Guardian reports.
The communications official said she “assumed” the photographs Trump was requesting “needed to be cropped”, but that Reynolds did not ask for this specifically. She then contacted the NPS photographer who had covered the event the day before.
A second official, from the NPS public affairs department, told investigators that Spicer called her office on the morning of 21 January and asked for pictures that “accurately represented the inauguration crowd size”.
The second official said that he was asked to “edit a few more” photos to give to the President.
“He said he edited the inauguration photographs to make them look more symmetrical by cropping out the sky and cropping out the bottom where the crowd ended,” the official said according to the documents obtained by The Guardian via the Freedom of Information Act. “He said he did so to show that there had been more of a crowd.”
Investigators pointed out that the photographer hadn’t directly been told to artificially make the crowd look bigger, but he was under the impression that that’s what the official who contacted him “had wanted him to do.”
Doctored images aren’t a new thing when it comes to Trump obsession with self image. Last summer, The Washington Post published a story revealing that at least four Trump-owned golf clubs were displaying fake TIME Magazine covers featuring Donald Trump with the headline, “Donald Trump: The ‘Apprentice’ is a television smash!”
Featured image via screen grab/YouTube